President Trump Awards Medal of Honor to Soldier Who Helped Free More than 70 Hostages from ISIS
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Army Delta Force soldier Sgt. Major Thomas “Patrick” Payne was awarded the Medal of Honor from President Donald Trump on Friday, for risking his life several times during a mission in Iraq that liberated more than 70 hostages from ISIS.
ABC News pointed out that “the Army Ranger received the nation’s highest award for heroism on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks that prompted him to join the Army right out of high school.”
In October of 2015, Delta Force conducted a raid in northern Iraq at a compound where ISIS was holding civilians. Payne was on his 14th deployment at that time, and according to Fox News, he recalled to the Army later, “My team was responsible for one of the buildings that the hostages were being held in. What was significant is that there were freshly dug graves. If we didn’t action this target then the hostages will probably be executed.”
Before presenting the Ranger with the prestigious award, President Trump told the story of Payne’s heroism in the 2015 mission, which included Payne risking his life under fire from ISIS militants to break into buildings — one of which was on fire — in selfless acts that were integral to the success of the operation that resulted in the freedom of dozens of hostages and the deaths of 20 ISIS terrorists.
Payne ran into the burning building multiple times to evacuate the civilians, and one person he even had to carry out himself because they were so afraid.
“Pat, you personify the motto: ‘Rangers lead the way,” President Trump told the soldier.
Payne’s wife, Alison, and six-year-old little boy sat in the front row at the White House ceremony. The president told the boy, “I want you to know that your dad is one of the bravest men anywhere in the world.”
Also present was Ashley Wheeler, the widow of Master Sgt. Josh Wheeler, a teammate of Payne’s who was killed in the 2015 raid, according to The Daily Mail.
Payne previously received the military’s second-highest honor for the mission, the Distinguished Service Cross. He also holds a Purple Heart after being wounded during a mission in Afghanistan in 2010.
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper tweeted after the ceremony Friday that Payne has been deployed 17 times.
Deployed 17 times, Sgt. Maj. Payne received the Medal of Honor moments ago at the @WhiteHouse. His courage is as contagious to those watching the @POTUS present the medal as it was on the battlefield. pic.twitter.com/E3tRaEJgND
— Dr. Mark T. Esper (@EsperDoD) September 11, 2020
You can view the Medal of Honor ceremony in its entirety below. It begins around the 19:00 mark: